Enter the 'third platform,' a big hairy term for cloudy, big data-ish IT

IDC projects social, mobile, analytics and cloud will dominate 89 percent of global IT spending growth this year.
Written by Joe McKendrick, Contributing Writer on

IDC recently issued a set of predictions for the year ahead, with the common thread is the rise of a "third platform," what it calls an "emerging platform for growth and innovation built on the technology pillars of mobile computing, cloud services, big data and analytics, and social networking."

Buildings-Time Warner Columbus Circle NY-photo by Joe McKendrick
Photo: Joe McKendrick

That's quite a big, hairy term to describe the convergence of the next-generation technologies and methodologies reshaping the organization.  (And I mean the entire organization, not just IT departments.)

IDC analyst Frank Gens illustrates how the third platform -- we'll call it 3P -- will reshape things over the next 12 months:

Spending on 3P technologies increase by 15 percent and capture 89 percent of worldwide IT spending growth. Total growth will be $2.1 trillion (a 5 percent increase), so IDC is projecting close to $100 billion of new spending going to social, mobile, analytics, and cloud. (Can we just call it SMAC?)  The only outcast left out of the party is the lowly PC, which will see a sales decline of 6% this year. (Though I have to ask: what exactly is a "PC" these days? A tablet computer with a keyboard attached is as much a laptop PC as the clamshell-form-factor laptop we've used for years.)

Expect to see more emphasis on Platform as a Service this year, with a transition from generic PaaS to "data-optimized PaaS." In other words, smarter PaaS, more targeted to users. This will be part of a push toward offering higher-value PaaS for developers as well as higher-value services for businesses, IDC says. An opportunity for Amazon Web Services, a threat to Google, IDC says.

Organization aggressively adopting 3P technologies have a greater opportunity to be the disruptors in their industries, IDC says. They will, in essence, become platform or cloud service providers themselves. "A key to competing in these disrupted and reinvented industries will be to create industry-focused innovation platforms (like GE’s Predix) that attract and enable large communities of innovators – dozens to hundreds will emerge in the next several years," IDC says. But rather than build these capabilities in their own data centers, they will build on top Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Salesforce, and others' platforms.

The next phase for the 3P will be extending to the Internet of Things (IoT). Expect to be hearing a lot about IoT, with vendors pitching ways to integrate devices and sensors into the enterprise 3P. 

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